docSamSBH Blog

What is Cheating

Educators are not only concerned about the frequency and sophistication of cheating by our high school and university students, but also about the fact that many of these students do not seem to have any guilt about being involved.

Two questions present themselves. One is: Should the students feel guilty? The other: Should the educators, or indeed the public, be surprised by this behaviour?

Let us first look closely at the higher institutions of learning namely our universities. When we analyze the faculty’s tactics for obtaining grants for research, we find that some of them may be involved in plagiarism, besides other activities which may be considered a form of cheating. Let me explain: Novice researchers who apply for research grants often get assistance from their supervisors, i.e. the faculty, especially on how to formulate their grant applications so they are successful in receiving funds.

Because they received professional help, some might view this support as a form of cheating. If such applicants for research grants use a senior scientist to help them prepare their grant proposal, could the research team submitting such a grant proposal or the senior scientist who helped be considered as cheating? Are they in the same category as those high school and/or university students who get professional help for their essays or other school projects? Are their tactics any different from the beggars asking for handouts on our streets?

It seems logical to extend this line of reasoning to the mechanisms used by some of our charitable organizations. It is my understanding that for some charitable organizations, the budget for their fundraising campaigns may exceed a third or even half of the total monies they collect. If such organizations were to make more transparent or more public the fraction of the monies that they collect that actually go towards research and/or the aims of their charity, this might exclude them from the cheating category.

Sunlight, Exercise and Vitamin D

The public has been strongly objecting to the federal government’s recent plans to reduce and eliminate residential mail delivery, with enthusiastic support from Canadian postal workers. In one of my earlier posts, I made reference to the scientific literature which seems to postulate the importance of maintaining a serum level of the sunshine hormone vitamin D, not only in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, but also in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures.

Evidence suggests that as little as half an hour exposure to sunlight a day might be sufficient to maintain the serum level of Vitamin D. Eliminating residential mail delivery not only denies postal carriers but also neighbourhood residents the opportunity to get a bit of exercise and additional sunlight exposure. This could possibly prevent Vitamin D deficiency – especially during the winter months – and may also possibly stave off early onset and/or progression of Alzheimer’s.

Our educators suggest that regular exercise of our school children makes them smarter in school. But is this the correct correlation? Could it be that it is not this lack of exercise, but rather the lack of outdoor exercise which reduces the levels of Vitamin D that results in poor scholastic performance? Especially during those winter months when children are often kept indoors for recess, in addition to being bussed to school.

This correlation could very easily be tested. I used to cycle to high school and later to the University of Manitoba daily for 9 years – a distance of 3 miles each way. At age 86, except for a Colles’ fracture sustained when I deliberately fell on my outstretched hand (to avoid a serious injury) on a tennis court in Florida, I seem free of osteoporosis. Mentally, I have not yet joined that group of Alzheimer’s.

Maybe it’s time for school boards to eliminate those yellow monstrosities that we call school buses and have children, especially our high school students, return to riding bicycles? The children would then be able to get in their physical activity – not on school time – and more importantly, our school boards would save tens of millions of dollars in school transportation.

As a footnote, when my wife and I visited China in the 1980’s, I was told that in Beijing alone there were over 3 million bicycles. With an increased shift to vehicle transportation in China, I wonder what effect this will have on their population – not only on their mental status, but also on their physical status. Perhaps this might lead to a higher incidence of osteoporosis and obesity?